THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Civil Supplies Department on Thursday launched a pilot project in 22 ration shops which aims at checking malpractice in the public distribution system (PDS) by tracking food grain trucks using GPS and fully automating ration shop transactions.
Implemented with technical assistance from the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), the pilot project involves 14 ration shops (ARD-authorised ration dealer) in Thiruvananthapuram district and eight in Muvattupuzha taluk. Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anoop Jacob inaugurated the project, the ultimate aim of which is end-to-end computerisation of the PDS.
“The test will last three months and the department plans to extend it to all 14,000 ARDs in due course. This is a total solution which will help check malpractice such as food grain diversion,” Anoop Jacob said.
Ration shops included in the project have been supplied Electronic Point of Sale (e-POS) machines for conducting transactions. All transactions, and the tracking of the vehicles, will be monitored from a central unit at the Civil Supplies Commissionerate. “Additionally, the e-POS machine enables automatic bill generation. One complaint of the consumers was that they were not provided bills by the ration shops,’’ Anoop Jacob said. The e-POS machine enables Aadhaar-based and non Aadhaar-based transactions.
The GPS-based vehicle tracking system has been provided with the assistance of KELTRON. The truck is tracked all the way from the Food Corporation of India godown to the Authorised Wholesale Dealer’s godown and from there to the individual ARDs. The route that the vehicle has to take is pre-assigned and any stop-over, even if for a few minutes, will be recorded. A geo-fencing system alerts designated officials once the vehicle enters the limits of the ARD concerned.
WFP country director Hameed Nuru, deputy director Jan Delbaer, Civil Supplies Commissioner Shyam Jagannathan and Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) managing director A T James were present.